An on-the-spot coronavirus test that gives results in 15 to 30 minutes is set to be rolled out globally.
The rapid kits work in a similar way to a pregnancy test and display two blue lines when testing positive for Covid-19.
They work by taking a nasal swab and inserting the sample into a cartridge that looks for antigens – or proteins found on the surface of the virus.
They differ from the current nasal/throat swabs and finger prick tests because they don’t need a lab to produce results.
It means they are able to detect coronavirus infection within minutes, compared to the hours of days necessary for the genetic tests, known as PCR tests, to turnaround results.
Former prime minister Tony Blair has called on the Government to adopt the rapid antigen tests, saying they could enable an extra 300,000 coronavirus tests to be carried out every day within a few weeks.
However Baroness Dido Harding, the head of NHS Test and Trace, warned companies and individuals could be forced to foot the bill for the swift turnaround tests as they were too unreliable for use within the health service.
But she said those without symptoms might choose to pay for the tests to act as a kind of Covid-19 passport to allow them to take part in non-socially distanced activities.
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